Saturday, 21 February 2015

A muddy walk along the riverside.

Today John ,Tony and I set off by underground to Paddington station to catch the train to Maidenhead and the start of our walk. We planned to walk from Maidenhead to Datchet  as part of walking the Thames path. The Thames Path is a long distance walking trail, following the Thames for 184 miles (294 Km) from its source in the Cotswolds through several rural counties and on into the heart of London. We have chosen to walk the route from the Thames barrier to it's source. Today the section we were walking was from Maidenhead back towards London so that our journey was shorter for the return trip.

Not far from the start of the walk we went under Maidenhead Railway bridge. This bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and completed in 1839. It carries the main line from Paddington to Bristol. The arches of the bridge are the largest and flattest brick arches ever built and many people thought that the bridge would collapse the first time a train ran over it.

In 1844 Turner painted the arches in his picture Rain, Steam and Speed on the Great Western Railway.  The painting is part of The National Gallery, London collection.

Image from wikimedia

At Bray we stopped and ate our lunch by the side of the lock. The weather was dry and at times the sun was bright and very warm.  Where the path was properly made up as it is in this photo the going was easy and dry. However most of the walk was along rough pathways and grass which included a lot of large puddles and mud.

Further along we walked past Boveney Church. The church is under the care of the Friends of Friendless Churches and has recently been restored, particularly the 15th century weatherboarded and timber framed tower.

As we walked into Windsor we could see the castle. We would get a better view as we walked round Windsor towards Datchet.

Going over Windsor bridge we spotted a large flock of swans

Before we started on the last stage of our walk we stopped at the Chocolate cafe for a hot chocolate. Mmm yummy I shall certainly be visiting here the next time I'm in Windsor.

We set off on the final stage of our walk from Windsor to Datchet and as we walked along the river we got a better view of Windsor castle.

The walk was longer than our route information suggested but it was a lovely day and we really enjoyed it. At Datchet  we caught the train home.. This evening I had an appointment with some embroidery whilst watching TV but I'll tell you about that another day.


Friday, 20 February 2015

A fun week and a finish

This week has been a fun week. To start with the only day I needed to go into work was today. I still had quite a bit of work I needed to complete but it is more fun to work from home. Lucy has also had holiday this week so we got to hang out together. I've already told you about our trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum to see the Wedding dress exhibition but we also had fun playing in my new kitchen. We tried out several new recipes.  The boozy baked chicken with peppers proved very popular. It looked very colourful and appetising as we prepared it

Yes there are whole garlic cloves in it. Once it was cooked the baby onions had a lovely caramelised finish and the whole meals was yummy.

The recipe was in the Sainsbury's magazine for February and was a recipe that was put to the test. The original recipe was by Gennaro Contaldo and Aggie MacKenzie tested it for the magazine. Often on these tests she tweaks the recipe but this time she didn't need to.

Serves 4 Prep 35mins Total time 2 hours.

150mls dry white wine
1 tablespoon English mustard. (I used dry mustard powder)
4 chicken thighs and 4 chicken drumsticks. (I used chicken breasts)
100g prosciutto, roughly chopped
10 baby onions or shallots peeled
225 baby vine tomatoes halved
1 yellow pepper and 1 red pepper deseeded and thinly sliced (I used a green pepper instead of yellow)
2 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole. (I added a couple more)
2 tablespoons of port
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Combine the wine and mustard. Set aside

2. Put the chicken pieces in an ovenproof dish with the prosciutto, onions, tomatoes, peppers and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss together. Pour over the white wine mixture, port, brandy and olive oil and toss. Cover with foil and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes.

3.Preheat the oven to 170C, fan 150C , gas 3

4. Place the chicken in the oven and bake for 1 hour, basting from time to time. Remove the foil and cook for another 30 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven, garnish with the parsley and serve.

I must remember to take some photos of the kitchen over the weekend so you can see how it's progressing. I need to decide on the tiles and flooring so I can get it finished in the near future.

On Wednesday John and I went to Kathryn's MA graduation. It was a lovely  with lots of sunshine  but unfortunately Katy wasn't feeling too well. However she managed to enjoy her day. I couldn't find my camera charger so I had to take photos on my phone so unfortunately the shot of her walking across the stage is rather fuzzy.

As she wasn't well we didn't go out for a celebration meal but we will do that in the near future.

Finally this week I managed to complete the baby quilt for my colleague. I missed her baby shower but will give her the quilt on Thursday as she doesn't go on maternity leave until next week. I decided to bind the quilt with polka dots. The fabric is part of the same collection by Michael Miller. I'm really pleased with how this quilt has turned out.

The quilting is a meander over the elephant and white fabric. The red and blue stripes are left unquilted. The binding was machine stitched to the front and hand stitched to the back.

I have also been working on my Votes for women quilt. I'm not sure I'll have it finished for the end of the month but it is well underway.

Tomorrow John, Tony and I are walking. We are heading out to Maidenhead by train and we'll walk back to Datchet along the Thames path. The weather forecast has changed from sunny all day to cloudy with a chance of rain so I'm going to leave Scamp at home.  

I'm linking this post with Amandajean's Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts and Richard and Tanya's Link a finish Friday at Richard and Tanya's Quilts

I hope you week has been fun and you've had a chance for some sewing.


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A winner, a camp and a visit.

This last week has been very busy with work, having the last kitchen unit fitted and a Guide camp.  There is almost too much to tell you about and I'm still breathless from the trip to an exhibition today with Lucy. But first things first I must announce the winner of my valentine give away.

Mr random number generator came up with number 17 who is Sherry.

Sherry4 February 2015 at 12:25                 
What a cute FQ thanks for the opportunity to win. I am a follower on Bloglovin and GFC.
 I have emailed Sherry.
So let me start by telling you about the camp. Those of you who follow regularly will know that I run a Guide unit.  Back in November we took the Guides and the Brownies (girls aged 7 to 14 years) away for a weekend staying at a Scout campsite. Whilst there the Guides saw the advert for a freezer camp.

Feb Freezer Slide

They loved the list of activities on offer and persuaded us to take them. I don't think it crossed their minds that it might be wet or cold, they just focused on the fun they'd have. So on Friday Lucy and I plus another leader found ourselves putting up tents in the rain as we waited for the girls to arrive. once they arrived it was all go getting them organised into tents and their sleeping bags organised. Once done it was off for the opening ceremony and a burger. Having got wet putting up the tents Lucy and I just seemed to get colder and colder. Although we have really warm sleeping bags and lots of warm clothes we felt cold all night. By morning I was in a really grumpy mood. However breakfast and several cups of tea restored our spirits and our tempers. The girls were all eager to have lots of fun.
This was a really easy camp for us as leaders since we had paid for catering. With no meals to cook and the programme organised for us there was very little for us to do except to make sure the girls were safe and enjoying themselves. Saturday was mostly dry and we enjoyed walking round the site to see what activities the girls were doing. In the evening there was a disco for the young people and a quiz for the leaders. Neither Lucy or I can resist a quiz and it was fun making new friends. The girls were tired out by the disco so went off to sleep quickly.
We all slept well on Saturday night and woke to a beautiful day with the sun shining. The activities continued until lunch time and in the afternoon the closing ceremony took place accompanied by fake snow. The girls voted the camp a success and asked if we will do it again next year! 
Lucy is on holiday at the moment and I have a few days off work so at the weekend we spent some time planning a day out. We decided to visit The Victoria and Albert Museum to see the wedding dress exhibition that is on.

I didn't take a photo of the V and A so here is a picture from their website.
The V&A Garden

The website says that it is the world's greatest museum of art and design. Whether that is true or not, it is a fabulous museum. The photo above shows the courtyard in the middle. Lucy and I ate our lunch here today and watched children paddling in the fountain.
We had gone to see the wedding dress exhibition and this was fabulous. No photography was allowed so I couldn't take any photos but dresses by William Hartnell, Vivienne Westwood, Charles James and Vera Wang plus lots more were on display.

We also had time for a brief look in the Islamic gallery. Here I was able to take photos. I love the geometric designs. I was particularly interested in designs that could be translated into quilts

These tiles were from the tomb of Bayanquli Khan. The tiles were earthenware under glaze and had been made somewhere between 1350 and early in the 15th century.

This fabulous piece of fabric was velvet with roundels on it. It had been made in Turkey between 1550 and 1600. It is a silk velvet with a metal wrapped thread running through it.

This tilework chimney was made in Turkey around 1731. Unfortunately it loses some of it wow factor when on a photo.

Finally there were several architectural drawing from Iran dating from 1876. These geometric designs are such fun.

We also visited the rapid response collection. Here they collect items that have made an impact. Both Lucy and I liked the Lego mini figure female scientists. Unfortunately my picture is blurred. These female figures were created in response to a suggestion that the profile of women in all aspects of science should be raised.

At the V and A you also have to pay attention to the architecture of the building as it has a lot of decoration. This staircase was just one example.

The trip to the museum was great and it gave me several ideas for quilts in the future. 

Tomorrow is Kathryn's graduation day from her masters degree. I hope the weather stays warm and dry. It should be a good day. I'm hoping that in the evening I should get time for some stitching.

I hope you've had a good weekend.


Monday, 9 February 2015

Lots of squares.

This weekend I had lots of sewing time. I started the weekend by making the Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks for February. The colour this month is pink.

I love the churn dash blocks. The batik looks rather red in this photo but in person it is pink.

Dust Off Those Books

I'm joining in with the Sharon's 'Let's book it' over at Vrooman's Quilts I don't have many quilt books but I do have a lot of quilt patterns so I chose 'Clover from Miss Rosie's Quilt Company. 

Clover - Schnibbles quilt pattern by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.

Unfortunately I'm not very good at making patterns exactly as they are written. The finished size of this quilt is 34ins square but I want to use it as a baby quilt so I will add a fourth row of blocks. The pattern uses charm packs but I'm making it from my scrap collection. I've already got the squares for the blocks but needed to make the 4 patch blocks.

I still need to make a further 42 - 4 patch blocks and cut the triangles for the outside edge before I can start putting it all together. I need this quilt finished for the baby shower on 19th February. Fortunately I have a fairly quiet work commitment for the next two weeks.

I am also finishing the second baby quilt .

Today my slow Sunday stitching has been to sew the back of the binding in place. I'm almost done just another corner and then a bit.... I can't wait to be able to declare this a finish.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to make a start on the quilting on the 'Votes for women' quilt. As this is a large quilt I'm going to try a new technique. I'm going to divide my wadding into sections. I'll quilt the middle section of the quilt first, leaving a border so I can join the wadding to the next section. This will help reduce the bulk and so make it easier on my domestic machine. 

This afternoon Kathryn and her boyfriend came over to visit and share dinner. Lucy also turned up and with all the family around it got rather noisy and very silly and giggly. It was a lovely evening but now I feel exhausted so I think it's time for bed.  Tomorrow is more time for quilting.

I've got a Valentine give away in progress here. This will run until 14th February.

I'm linking up with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday.


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Snow, binding and a give away

This morning wasn't so cold here in London UK but we did have snow, yipee!  I know that some of you get a lot of snow and are probably heartily sick of it by now but we get very little in London so it's a bit of a novelty. There wasn't very much of it but youngest daughter and her boyfriend had a snowball fight as they walked to work and I took Scamp for a quick walk in it before I went to my quilt class. Scamp liked it but complained it made his paws cold.

I decided to walk to the class. I didn't have chance for much exercise last week and it doesn't take that long so it was a good chance to catch up and add a round trip of five miles to my weeks walking total. Walking on my own is always good as it gives me chance to think. I have signed up to do a mini quilt swap hosted by Kate North at Kate's Quilting (and other arty stuff) so I needed to come up with a design.


I took part in this swap a while back when it was round 7 and for that I created a mini quilt from a drawing I had done several years earlier of a clematis. I originally used the drawing to create a block print that I used as greeting cards.

That drawing turned into this mini

All the applique was done with hand stitching and I had fun adding beads and textured embroidery stitches.

I also hand quilted but my stitches were not very even. However I liked it and almost decided not to take part in the swap.  I'm pleased I did.

The swap has to be ready for April so it was a good point to decide on my design. I have a rough idea in my head and once I've fully decided I will tell you more.

One of the ladies who had the flu was well enough to come to the class this week so I had two participants. We did some cutting and sewing and a lot of chatting and having fun. It certainly doesn't seem much like work.

When I got home I cut the binding for the baby quilt. I chose spotty fabric.

I stitched the binding to the front of the quilt but still have to stitch it down. I will do that later this evening. Unfortunately I am supposed to be doing some marking. Most of our marking is now done on-line and it is just too easy to get sidetracked into reading blogs or writing a post. I must finish up and get back to work.

Picasso and Scamp aren't enamoured of me working in an evening. Picasso gave up his favoured spot along the back of my chair to register his protest against work.

Much to Scamp's annoyance he chose to protest from Scamp's basket. Picasso's basket is upstairs so Scamp made himself as small as he could  and refused to move.

At least it means I can sit in comfort with my computer on my lap.

I mentioned a give away in my title. I have a fat quarter to give away for Valentine's day.

I saw this fabric this morning and knew it was purrfect to show some quilty kitty love. I will add two more FQ's to it. To enter just leave me a comment telling me how you will be celebrating Valentine's Day this year. This give away is open to everyone (I will post internationally). If you are a follower you can have a second chance just leave another comment. The give away will remain open until 12 midnight (GMT) on the 14th February. 

Hey Ho, Hey Ho it's back to work I go ...... but not for long as it's nearly bed time.


Monday, 2 February 2015

An evening spent meandering.

Goal 3 for February was to quilt and bind this baby quilt.

So this evening I set up my machine and for once decided to check the manual for the instructions on the settings for FMQ. It was a while before Christmas when I last did any quilting so I thought it a good idea. Anyway having set it up as instructed from the manual I run my test piece and it came out a perfect stitch. What no complaints from the machine, no broken thread, no swear words from me? Maybe I should check I've got the settings right more often as it would save a lot of grumpiness.

I had decided to keep it simple and just do a meander along the white and elephant stripes. The red and blue stripes are narrow so don't really need quilting. I had chosen another Michael Miller fabric for the backing which must be part of the same collection as the elephants since it co-ordinates so well.

I still need to trim the quilt and then add the binding. I haven't cut the binding yet but that will happen tomorrow morning. Last Tuesday I started teaching a quilting course. I was supposed to have 4 ladies but one had to go to a hospital appointment with her husband and two were ill with the flu. That left one lady who used to dressmake but has never done any quilting. She also hadn't used a rotary cutter before and I had quite forgotten how long it takes to gain confidence in using it but she went home very happy having mastered the technique. Tomorrow I will introduce the remaining ladies to rotary cutters and I thought I could demonstrate the technique and safety aspects by cutting my binding. It seems a good use of time and the binding will be ready for when I get home.

Whilst I was pulling my pink scraps yesterday in preparation of making my blocks for this months Rainbow Scrap Challenge I realised that I now have two more WIP's. Having finished up all the nine patch blocks from last years challenge I need to decide how I am going to set them and work out if I have enough or need to make a few more. I have two months to catch up with on my hexi blocks and then that will need to be made into a top as well. Quilting really is a never ending cycle - buy the fabric to make a quilt- keep the scraps for a future project- use the scraps in blocks,-make into a top,-buy fabric or use some from stash to make the sashing borders and backing- keep the scraps for a future project and so on. Sharon at Vroomans Quilts talks about the fabric food chain and I think that describes it perfectly.

It's getting very cold here in London. As I defrosted the car this morning the thermometer was ready -4C. I know that's not particularly cold for some of you but it is unusual here in inner London. We may even get some snow which is always a little exciting because we don't get very much. When I used to live out in the country we would be snowed in at times. So if it's winter for you stay warm and safe.


Goals for February

I didn't set myself any goals in January as we were having a new kitchen fitted and I knew that would mean my sewing space would be used as storage. However I had hoped to get my 'Votes for Women' top quilted. I had already made the quilt sandwich so what could go wrong? Well I took it out of the large bag where I had carefully packed it during the heating and electrical work. Unfortunately the cover had moved and the backing was all covered in brick dust so had to be washed. Thank goodness it wasn't the top. The dining table was then folded down (it's a gate legged table) to make room for the kitchen cabinet boxes so having washed the backing I didn't get the quilt sandwich redone. Still as the story goes there is always another month.

So goal 1 for February is to quilt and bind this quilt. This is my goal for 'A lovely year of finishes at Sew Bittersweet Designs

I know February is a short month so I'm loathe to set many goals but I would also like to quilt the Star Trek quilt. I haven't yet made the quilt sandwich, in fact I need to buy the backing fabric. Still a girl can dream can't she? So this one is goal 2

I also have to finish this baby quilt. I need it for Wednesday as my colleague is going on maternity leave. She knows she is having a boy. This is goal 3

I have another work colleague going on maternity leave in March. She doesn't know or want to know the sex of her baby. That means her quilt must be gender neutral. I haven't thought of a pattern yet but may use my 'Let's book it' project for that.

'Let's Book it' is hosted by Sharon at Vroomans Quilts. The idea is to make quilty goodness from our quilt books. I only own 3 quilt books and two of them are about different quilting techniques and the third has patterns for large quilts. Right at the moment I don't want to start another large quilt. You can also use patterns that you've saved from magazines or the internet. I have several Snibbles patterns that I haven't made yet so I thought I would start 'Clover'
Clover - Schnibbles quilt pattern by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.

This would be my 4th goal for the month. I think that will do for goals as any more would be unrealistic. I will have one or two other bits to make. I'm taking part in the rainbow scrap challenge again. This year I am making 4 blocks a month and the block I'm using is churn dash. I have made the blocks for January.

The photo doesn't show the true colours of these blocks but give a rough idea.  I find this photo a little strange as the blocks appear to be floating rather than sitting on the coffee table. Anyway the blue blocks for January are done and I've sorted through my scraps for pinks which is February's colour. These blocks finish at 6 inches. 

I do have one other goal but this is long term and not a quilting goal. I want to lose weight and my plan is to lose one and a half stone over the year (or quicker). That's a total of 21pounds but it is doable. I'll let you know how it is going.

Now I think I'd better get things organised for work tomorrow. Anything to save time in the morning. Tomorrow I have a free evening so I can get some sewing done. A lovely way to relax at the end of a tiring day.

I'm linking this post to the goal setting for February at Sew Bittersweet Designs

I hope your weekend went well and you had a little 'me' time.